Cloud adoption continues to accelerate in Singapore, with 63% of respondent organizations adopting cloud more during the pandemic.
- 29% of enterprises saw a moderate to major increase in supply chain attacks during the pandemic.
- 65% of Singapore enterprises are still at risk, with only 35% of respondents indicating that they had no cybersecurity incidents during the year after regular forensics and assessments were conducted.
- Top areas of concern in Singapore include data exfiltration (leak of personal data), ransomware attacks and vulnerability of unpatched systems.
- Top cybersecurity challenges faced in Singapore include resourcing and skills, balancing regulatory requirements and customers' needs, and lack of budget.
- Senior management is more concerned with cyber risk issues as the general perception of cybersecurity has improved.
These are some of the findings of the 2021 ISACA-Frost & Sullivan Survey: The Singapore Cybersecurity Landscape, conducted in June 2021 as part of the ISACA Singapore Chapter's flagship annual event, GTACS 2021.
The goal was to seek opinions on the technologies that will have a profound transformative impact on existing industry dynamics, value chains, and business models across multiple vertical markets in the next 2-3 years.
FutureCIO spoke to Steven Sim, president, ISACA Singapore Chapter and Kenny Yeo, associate director, global security advisory and head of Asia Pacific cybersecurity practice for Frost and Sullivan, on the results of the survey in more detail.
Editor’s note: Click here for a recap of 2020’s survey
Compare the results from the ground from 2020 to 2021. What is different about the resulting survey this year?
Steven Sim: The survey has certain key security concerns, including data exfiltration, ransomware and batch systems. CISOs are predominantly concerned with three major trends: the increasingly sophisticated trend landscape especially between 2020 and 2021, the acceleration to remote work from home as the future of work and cloud, and the ongoing journey towards industry 4.0.
Are these points reflective of the conditions outside of Singapore as well?
Kenny Yeo: Definitely. The entire shift to work from home to digital, and digital engagement led to the increasing cloud and digital transformation. This is across the broader Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific. Life has changed dramatically for businesses - many restrictions and changes in the way we deal with customers, users, and cybersecurity.
Have the expectations on the CISO changed in terms of what expertise and experiences that the executive brings to the table?
Steven Sim: There is an increasing recognition that cybersecurity is a key element of enterprise risk. The CISO is critical in bringing up awareness to sustain business resilience and ensure the breach can be timely contained - detect fast, contain fast, recover fast - to minimize any impact. The CISO is moving towards strategically supporting cybersecurity not just in the technical or operational support area but more.
Has the role or profile of security changed in terms of priorities in the last couple of years?
Steven Sim: Yes, security by design has been ingrained into the cybersecurity tools of many companies today, especially with digital transformation. Moving to the cloud to ensure basic security practices by using frameworks like CSA, CCM cloud security alliance, cloud control matrix or soc 2 compliance to ensure track modelling, assessment, and management of the risk at the optimal level.
Can you cite any strengths and weaknesses to how Singapore organizations are responding to or treating cyber threats these days?
Kenny Yeo: Singapore has a very active and mature regulatory environment and is often seen as a benchmark for other countries. It has been quite progressive even with new technology like cloud and cybersecurity. The weakness, based on our analysis, is those small and medium-sized companies are most at risk due to a lack of awareness and/or resources.
Where are Singapore CISO practices relatively mature compared to the US or Europe, and what needs to be improved?
Steven Sim: Finance security is essentially about good risk governance and optimizing risk. The more mature organizations have a strong governance process in place. Technology is enabling the process of governance; it is not the end but the means. The challenge is the increased supply chain internal connectivity with supply chain 4.0. A mature organization with a trusting relationship with suppliers can end up being vulnerable.
Is there still a need for government involvement in terms of encouraging the further enhancement of cybersecurity practices in the local market?
Kenny Yeo: Yes. The sad reality is that most organizations will not do that voluntarily, and therefore, the regulatory framework is very important. If there are no regulatory frameworks in place, leaving it to the private sector would mean that not every organization will be as proactive as they have their priorities.
Does the CISO himself or others below him have sufficient recognition within the leadership to accept the changes?
Steven Sim: Cybersecurity is a team sport. The CISO and his team cover governance, race, operations, sensitive response even technology, architecture, and assessment. The team collates the information of unresolved properties and vulnerabilities and subsequently transforms them into key indicators.
Kenny Yeo: Having multiple people involved is important as well as understanding that cyber risk is a business risk.
What should the CISO focus on in 2022 both from a functional perspective and an executive level?
Steven Sim: The CISO should focus on key areas: the cyber risk from strategic tactical and operational level and increasing IT & OT convergence in line with industry 4.0 and RPA automation. The CISO must be able to relate, keep abreast and understand the current trend landscape. As CISOs, not just look at a single set of standards like for IT security standards but also the OT side of things.
What should Singapore enterprises be doing to get ready for the unknown cybersecurity in 2022?
Kenny Yeo: For 2022, Singapore enterprises should: 1) make sure there is cyber literacy especially at the senior level; 2) create a cybersecurity awareness program, and 3) conduct cyber drills to make sure everybody’s practised.
Steven Sim: Security is a continuous process. Cloud services have been disrupted before due to either operational human errors or cyberattacks. This should be considered going forward.